G-Mail Smart Labels

Google Smart Labels
Google Smart Labels

I don’t know about you, but I am drown­ing in e-mail.

Most of my non-day job e-mail goes into a cou­ple of Google G-mail accounts. This is main­ly because G-mail has so many fea­tures to help me sort, find, and respond to e-mail.

First off, I get almost zero spam, because Google’s spam fil­ters use the pow­er of the user­base of G-mail to iden­ti­fy spam. If tens of thou­sands of peo­ple flag some­thing as spam or phish­ing, it prob­a­bly is, so G-mail whisks it away from your in box.

Next, G-mail lets you cre­ate any num­ber of fil­ters for incom­ing mes­sages. You can have mes­sages that you want to store (receipts, say), but do not want in your inbox moved into a Receipts fold­er and removed from the inbox. Auto­mat­i­cal­ly. Every time.

Search­ing in G-mail is just as intu­itive, quick and pow­er­ful as search­ing the web. (And, if you are in G-mail and want to search the web, there’s a but­ton to quick­ly get search results from the web instead of from your e-mail.)

But Google is going fur­ther than any oth­er e-mail prod­uct with G-mail. They are help­ing you auto­mat­i­cal­ly sort your mail with­out you hav­ing to set up fil­ters. Last year, Google released some­thing called Pri­or­i­ty Inbox, which does a fair­ly ser­vice­able job of pre­dict­ing what might be of more impor­tance to you, based on what you read and reply to. Over the last cou­ple of days, Google has released a new fea­ture for G-mail into Google Labs. It’s called “Smart Labels.” As e-mail comes in, Google looks to see if it is a Noti­fi­ca­tion (some­thing sent direct­ly to you, but not from some­one you have ever replied to, or per­haps with a no-reply set­ting in the head­er), Bulk Mail (an e-mail mass mail­ing list), or Forums (from a group mail­ing list). If so, it tags your e-mail with one of these labels, and, if you tell it so by sim­ply click­ing a check­box, it can remove that e-mail from your inbox.

To set this up, log into G-mail, go to Set­tings and then Labs, and scroll down until you see Smart Labels and mark that Enabled. For more infor­ma­tion, see Google’s G-mail blog entry on this fea­ture.

This looks pow­er­ful to me, and already has giv­en me a small­er inbox where I will have most of my tasks and must-respond items.

In case you are won­der­ing, “How does this relate to geneal­o­gy?” the answer is that time spent wrestling with your e-mail inbox is time not spent on your research. Google con­tin­ues to help stream­line the way e-mail works so we can get back to some­thing we would rather be doing.